Dykman, Mark and Smelyanskiy, V. N. and Luchinsky, D. G. and Mannella, R. and McClintock, Peter V. E. and Stein, N. D. (1999) Large fluctuations and irreversibility in nonequilibrium systems. Nonlinear Phenomena in Complex Systems, 2 (1). pp. 1-7. ISSN 1561-4085
Large rare fluctuations in a nonequilibrium system are investigated theoretically and by analogue electronic experiment. It is emphasized that the optimal paths calculated via the eikonal approximation of the Fokker-Planck equation can be identified with the locus of the ridges of the prehistory probability distributions which can be calculated and measured experimentally for paths terminating at a given final point in configuration sspace. The pattern of optimal paths and its singularities, such as caustics, cusps and switching lines has been calculated and measured experimentally for a periodically driven overdamped oscillator, yielding results that are shown to be in good agreement with each other.
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